Room on the Broom Autumn Chocolate Cake

room on the broom chocolate cakeWith nights closing in and leaves changing colour Summer is definitely over. The shops are filling up with Halloween (and even Christmas) goodies and I’m having to think about trick or treat costumes and  pumpkins. This week my son’s school had an Autumn themed “bake off” as a fund raiser. To me Autumn and Halloween mix perfectly with a Room on the Broom themed chocolate cake. I entered the adult category and let my son make cupcakes by himself for the children’s. My son was very happy because it was the first time he had been allowed to decorate and make cakes all by himself (the control freak in me usually helps out). A friend’s daughter won the children’s category with a hedgehog cake and I won a bottle of wine for the adult category.

I made a Rich Chocolate Cake (recipe here) filled with Vanilla frosting and covered with ready to roll chocolate flavoured fondant. I used a mixture of sugar paste, fondant, tempered white chocolate and cinder toffee to make the decorations.


The mushrooms were made using modeling chocolate for the stems and red chocolate buttons for the tops, attached together and to the cake with tempered white chocolate which I also used to add the spots on top.


The witch’s hat and legs were made from sugar paste. The hat is a simple circle attached to a cone of sugar paste with edible glue. To make the legs I rolled strips of black sugar paste into white sugar paste then rolled the resulting stripy sugar paste around a floral wire. I used black sugar paste to make the shoes. I also made a long ginger plait and spotty bow a’ la Room on the Broom.


I coloured ready to roll fondant red and yellow then blended the two together to create an autumn leaf effect. I used leaf plunger cutters to create the leaves then covered a ball of chocolate fondant to create the pile of leaves the witch has fallen into.


To make the cauldron I used a cake pop mould to make two hemispheres of tempered white chocolate then slightly melted them to join them together. I also melted away the top of the sphere to create a flat surface for the cauldron “bubbles” to sit on. I covered the ball with black sugar paste and created a rim around the top. I also used sugar paste to make legs which I attached with edible glue. I then melted the top of the white chocolate again and pressed  in green sugar pearls and sprinkles to create a bubble effect.


The stones around the fire are made of sugar paste attached with edible glue. The flames are made of cinder toffee (recipe here) . I made a batch of cinder toffee as normal then used the left over mixture cooling in the pan to pull out flame shapes which I pushed into the fondant. If you try this please make sure the mixture has cooled enough that you won’t burn your fingers.

So there it is, a cake that showcases sugar work, tempered chocolate and fondant modeling.I’m entering this cake into Jenny Paulin’s Great Blogger’s bake off showstopper competition. Below you can see the details on the top and also the cakes my 5 year old made by himself.

room on the broom chocolate cake detailsIMG_6516.JPG


Casa CostelloGreatBloggersBakeOff


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Good morning

belvitaWe all say “Good Morning” but what actually makes a morning good? For our family mornings changed a lot in September when our son started school and our daughter started pre-school 3 days a week. Until September we could take our time and not rush – if we arrived somewhere a little late it didn’t really matter – but now we do need to be on time. We need to be in the playground ready to line up when bell rings and everyone needs to have eaten a proper breakfast for the day. For my kids this means cereal but I often find myself snacking and surviving on coffee. Belvita were kind enough to send us some breakfast biscuits recently and I have to admit they are very handy for a quick breakfast as I’m getting kiddies out of the door. They’re also good as a snack to give the kids if we’re out for the day.

Belvita have asked us to share #morningwin stories and I think mine has to be the fact that since September I’ve actually managed to go to the gym 4 times a week – 3 of those on days when I don’t have the kids. This might not sound like much but since my daughter was born my gym membership has pretty much been used for swimming with the kids and a nice lunch. To actually go in the gym or to yoga is a huge #morningwin for me.

This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at

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October’s celebration cakes and bakes with August’s round up

mickey mouse clubhouseThis last month a has been great but busy, my son turned 5 and started school all in the same week and my daughter started preschool. We’ve had a big party, got used to the new routine and had two charity cake sales to bake for. For his 5th birthday my son wanted a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme so we had the big cake for his party and cupcakes for his actual birthday.

August had some lovely cakes linked up, and I hope that everyone will forgive a month’s absence and contribute and autumn or Halloween cakes this month!

August’s first bake was a batch of 30th birthday biscuits from Jen at Bakearama they are lovely and sparkly and perfect for any girly girl – I’m liking them for my own birthday next year!

Next was a Summer berry cake by Ros at The more than occasional baker. All that fruit topped with icing sugar is making my mouth water.

Winnie from Something sweet again joined in with a beautiful looking apple cake filled with chocolate polka dots.

Ros from The more than occaisional baker also linked up a stunning Cherry and coconut bundt cake and I’m loving the tin she used. I have a couple of bundt tins but may have to look for something similar.

Charlene from Food glorious food added a flavour packed Caribbean explosion cake filled with spices.

Finally Jenny from Mummy mishaps added a beautiful candy covered Number 5 cake made for her son’s birthday – if you read the post she actually made two cakes and both look fab.

If you have a cake or bake to link up please join in the linky below. The rules are simple:

You must have made the bake yourself – no buying from the local cake shop.

It must be a post about making the bake – it doesn’t have to be a full on recipe but it does need to be in the spirit of the thing.

It doesn’t need to be a new post it could be one from last year, but if it’s a seasonal celebration bake it should be appropriate – so no Easter cakes at Christmas, save them for springtime.

Posts must include the Celebration Cakes & Bakes badge (grab the code below)

Please comment on a few of the other entries – remember linkys only work if you spread the linky love!

That’s it everything else is optional.

If you follow me on twitter @jaisee_mummy and tweet me with the hashtag #CelebrationCakesAndBakes I will retweet any entries that I see.

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School day tea times

My son started reception this September and my daughter started 3 days a week at preschool so life has been a little bit different these last few weeks. I finally have a bit of time to myself, but I also have two small tired children to feed every day before they fall unconscious! Our tea time menus vary a lot depending on if we are eating as a family or feeding the kiddywinks first. Our family meals tend to be home made pizza, roast dinners, spaghetti bolognese and baked potatoes etc. If I’m just cooking for the kids we make scrambled eggs on toast, sausages or that old favourite of fish fingers. In fact given the choice my son will ask for fish fingers for tea any time we aren’t all eating together. We use a lot of fresh vegetables in our cooking and my kids love shelling peas from pea pods but for days when everyone’s tired we also keep a lot of frozen veg in. It’s so convenient and means that on days when I’m looking for something easy my kids always get their vegetables with their tea. Green beans are a favourite, as are peas and sweetcorn. For roast dinners we also add roast carrots to the mix.

Tea time Collage with textThe pizzas above were made by my kids, I roll out the dough and then they add their own pasata, grated mozzarella and toppings – in this case ham, peas and sweetcorn. Other choices have been chicken, pineapple, peppers etc. It’s a fun way to get them into cooking and they are much more likely to eat something they’ve birds eyebeen involved in making. Recently Birds Eye sent me some vouchers to try out their products and we chose lots of frozen vegetables as well as the ever present fishfingers. As part of their #Afterschoolchefs challenge they are asking bloggers to write about their tea time routines and how they get their kids clearing thier plates. This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook Page

Birds Eye do a great range of frozen food and some of the vegetables even have a new resealable zip on the bag meaning that I’m not having to scramble around for food clips to seal the bag.

Of course kids get tired and sometimes there’s nothing you can do to get them to finish their tea. Occasionally you have to accept defeat and just put them to bed. Especially when this happens…


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Thomas and friends: Tale of the brave

Thomas&Friends_TOTB_artMy son is a bit of a Thomas the tank engine fan. In fact “a bit” doesn’t really cover it. He turned 5 in September and still shows no sign of growing out of his trains. We have a massive wooden track as well as a growing collecton of take n’ play sets. It isn’t just the toys though, he’s also a huge fan of the movies. He will happily watch them again and again on repeat until I have the music stuck in my head for days. The latest Thomas and friends movie is called Tale of the brave and features all our usual friends as well as new characters Gator  a visiting engine from the high mountains and Marion a steam shovel who works in the clay pits with Donald and Douglas. We were invited to a special screening of the film at Thomas land Drayton Manor and had a fabulous day. We also received the DVD to take home with us and it has been VERY well used since.

If you have a Thomas fan I can certainly recommend this DVD – it has dinosaurs, engines and lessons about confronting our fears. Both my son and my 3 year old daughter love the film and my son is now asking for the Clay pits take ‘n play set to add to his collection.

Gator_hero poseF

Tale of the brave is available to buy now, as are the toys linked to it.

Thomas&Friends _TOTB DVD artwork

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Chocolate orange cupcakes for grown ups with decorating ideas for all levels

cake line Collage

What’s your favourite cupcake? This week I’ve been deciding what I should bake for a great competition run by the people at Betta Living. They are looking for exciting cupcake recipes in the run up to National Cupcake Week 15th – 21st September. Surprisingly perhaps my favourite cupcakes aren’t vanilla, although you’d be forgiven for thinking they were considering how often I use my vanilla cupcake recipe. My favourite cupcakes to make are chocolate orange cupcakes, in fact the only reason I don’t make them more often is that I eat far to many of them when they’re in the house! Instead of frosting I use a white chocolate ganache on top and decorate with a variety of chocolate and fondant decorations. Last year I made Cointreau truffles to go on top of the cupcakes, this year I’m using the same cointreau and dark chocolate ganache I used in the truffles but I’m putting it actually inside the cakes, which is what makes them just for grown ups. Below you’ll find the recipe for my cupcakes and the ganache but first here are also some ideas for decorating the cupcakes – whether you’re a complete novice or more experienced there’s an idea to love; because autumn is on it’s way I’ve done a couple of seasonal designs, as well as the yummy dark chocolate decorations.

9 decorating ideas with something for all levels:

cupcake collage numbered

1. Sprinkled home made (or bought) chocolate chips

2. Tempered dark chocolate hearts

3. Tempered dark chocolate leaf

4. Fondant autumn leaves

5. Tempered chocolate writing

6. White and dark chocolate ganache stars

7.Fondant pumpkin

8. Fondant flower cascade with sugar pearls

9. Embossed fondant.


For the cupcakes:

250g castor sugar

cupcake batter Collage250g unsalted butter (softened)

4 eggs beaten

4 tsp orange extract

200g self-raising flour

50g good quality cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate)

1/4 (quarter) tsp baking powder

zest of 2 oranges

25 – 50ml whole milk

Preheat the oven to 180c

Makes 15 larger cupcakes or 24 small cupcakes

  • In a free standing mixer cream the butter and sugar
  • Add the orange extract to the egg and slowly add to the butter cream while still mixing. If needed add a spoonful or two of the flour to help it combine.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the cocoa powder and flour then add to the egg mix and mix until smooth.
  • Stir in the orange zest
  • Add the milk until the mixture drops easily from a spoon – you may not need all of it.
  • Place in cupcake cases and bake at 180c for either 15 minutes for small cupcakes or 18 minutes for larger cupcakes.

For the dark chocolate decorations and cointreau ganache filling

chocolate decorations collage 3200g Extra Dark Chocolate

50ml room temperature double cream

Cointreau to taste (for me about 1 shot glass full)

  • Melt 2/3 of the dark chocolate in the microwave using 10 second bursts, stirring each time. The idea is to keep the chocolate as cool as possible while getting it to melt.
  • Once the chocolate has melted place in a large bowl, break the remaining 1/3 of dark chocolate into small pieces and add to the melted chocolate. Stir continuously until the solid chocolate has melted and the chocolate feels cool when touched to your lip. This is the seeding method of tempering chocolate.
  • Place the chocolate in a piping or sandwich bag and cut off the corner, pipe some shapes onto foil or grease proof paper to use later for decoration. You could do anything from drops of chocolate to chocolate writing.
  • Place the remaining tempered chocolate back into the large bowl and stirring the room temperature cream. Mix until smooth then add the cointreau, testing to check you are happy with the flavour as you go. (It’s a hard life!)
  • Place the ganache in a piping bag with a filling nozzle and inject the filling into the cooled cupcakes.

For the white chocolate ganache:

50ml room temperature double cream

200g  White Chocolate

  • Melt the white chocolate in the microwave using 10 second bursts, stirring each time. The idea is to keep the chocolate as cool as possible while getting it to melt. Once the chocolate begins to melt simply continue to stir until all the remaining lumps are melted by the already melted chocolate.
  • Stir in the room temperature cream and keep stirring until the ganache thickens – it the ganache seems too stiff add a little more cream.
  • Leave to cool, stirring regularly until the ganache is thick enough to be piped.

This post is my entry to the Betta Living “Betta bake a cupcake” #bettabakeoff competition to celebrate National Cupcake Week which runs from 15-27 September. The lovely people at  Betta Living are giving away £750 in gift vouchers for the most creative cupcake recipe with one runner-up also receiving £250 in vouchers. So if you have your own blog why not get baking? You can find full details here.

group 3

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Lemon meringue pie

lemon meringue pieThis week I’m back joining in with the great bloggers bake off after missing a week to make all the mickey mouse themed birthday party food for my son’s 5th birthday. I decided to make lemon meringue pie because A- my husband loves it B- I’ve never made it before C- I don’t really eat it so it’s good for my diet and D- I was sad to miss out on the Baked Alaskas so wanted to do something with meringue.

lemon meringue pie collageI used the same sweet pastry I used last year for my summer fruit meringue pies but changed the meringue recipe a little. I was rushing a little so lost the beautiful peaks in the meringue but overall the pie came out well. I blind baked the case as it was larger than my small summer fruit pies and adapted a Mary Berry recipe for the filling.

We’ve just eaten it for dessert with our tea and it looked pretty good when we cut into it!

This recipe is for  9 inch pie made in a loose bottomed tin.

For the pastry:

125g Plain flour

15g Castor sugar

75g Unsalted butter

1 large egg yolk (keep the egg white for the meringue)

1 tablespoon of cold water

preheated 180c oven


  • If you have a blender (which I don’t), just put all the ingredients in and mix.
  • Otherwise place the flour and sugar and in a bowl and mix through before rubbing the butter in to create a breadcrumb effect.
  • Next beat the egg yolk and mix through with your hands or a wooden spoon.
  • Add the water and combine the dough into a ball.
  • Knead briefly to ensure the egg yolk has distributed evenly throughout the pastry (no yellow bits).
  • Butter your pie tin – with fluted edges I find the best way to stop pastry sticking is to get right in there with your fingers and make sure every bit of the fluting is buttered.
  • Roll out the pastry on a floured non-stick surface (I used my fondant mat but greaseproof paper works too) and then flip the pastry onto the pie tin before carefully peeling off the non stick surface.
  • Carefully lift and press the pastry into place making sure there are no holes.
  • Use a knife to remove excess pastry from the top drawing it outwards so that it pulls the pastry into the walls of the tin rather than away from them.
  • Line with grease proof paper over the pastry then fill with baking beans
  • Blind bake the pastry in a 180 oven for 15 minutes then remove the baking beans and grease proof paper and bake for a further 5 minutes to brown.

For the lemon filling

This is a very tart filling, if you prefer it sweeter reduce the lemon juice to 3 lemons and add a little extra water instead

Juice and zest from 4 unwaxed lemons100ml water100g castor sugar1 level tablespoon of cornflour4 large egg yolks (beaten)

  • Place the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and  water into a pan and bring to the boil.
  • Reduce the heat and whisk in the cornflour until there are no lumps.
  • Continue to stir until the mixture thickens.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool slightly to stop the eggs scrambling when they are added.
  • Beat the egg yolks and add to the cooled sugar mixture stirring constantly to help mix in evenly and prevent the eggs scrambling. Take back to the heat and cook over a low heat stirring until the mixture has thickened (5 minutes or so). Remove from the heat and leave to one side to cool while you make the meringue.

For the meringue

5 egg whites (1 left over from making the pastry and 4 left over from making the filling).

250g castor sugar

2 teaspoons cornflour

Preheat the oven to 170c

  • Whisk the egg whites on a high speed until they form soft peaks
  • Add the sugar a spoonful at a time while continuing to mix at a slow speed
  • Add the cornflour to make the meringue soft inside
  • Pour the lemon filling into the blind baked pastry case
  • Pipe or spoon the meringue on top of the lemon filling
  • Bake in a 170c oven for 15 minutes until the meringue is crisp on top.


lemon meringue pie inside




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Ciabatta bread

CiabattaAs a lover of Itallin food, ciabatta is a bread I always enjoy, the chewy texture and the crusty outside are always a great start to a meal at our local restaurant. Strange then that I’ve never tried making it before, if you listen to the instructions on the Great British Bake Off this week it can be done in 3 hours, although if you follow the recipie in Paul Hollywood’s book Bread he adds an extra 6 hours of proving to the start to ferment the dough and increase the flavour. I followed Mr Hollywood’s recipe initially but found that the dough – which he says should resemble a batter was much too dry with the amounts listed so I added another 50ml to this. The recipe instructs you to mix up half the dough and leave to prove for 6 hours before mixing in the rest of the ingredients and beginning a more traditional prove. In all honeststy I probably wouldn’t do the first stage again, I’m sure it added an extra dimension to the flavour and the bread did come out smelling exactly like ciabatta should but I really don’t have time in day to day life to prove for 6 hrs, then 2 hrs, then another hour.

We had our ciabatta for supper on Tuesday with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I tasted lovely and had the irregular bubbles that Mr Hollywood said should be present so all in all a successful experiment.



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Picnic loaf

This week was week 3 of the 2014 Great British Bake Off, they made rye bread rolls, struggled with ciabatta and made savoury filled loaves as show stoppers. Last year the technical challenge was an apricot couronne and as a variation I made  savoury couronne with spinach, parma ham and mozzarella which seems to fit with this year’s showstopper theme. Instead of twisting the dough into a couronne shape I simply wound it into a spiral, making a more solid loaf which, hen cut reveals to pinwheels of filling inside.

Picnic loaf 2Ingredients:

500g Strong white bread flour

1 sachet fast action yeast

2 tsp salt

125ml warm whole milk

125ml warm water

30g butter (softened)

Approx 8 slices of parma ham (or normal ham if you prefer)

1-2 Large handfuls of fresh spinach

100-150g buffalo mozzarella (the kind that comes packed in brine not the grated kind)


  • Place the flour in a large bowl or freestanding mixer bowl.
  • Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the opposite side. Mix thoroughly.
  • Mix 125ml of whole milk and 125ml of water in a microwavable jug and heat for approx 40 seconds (try 20 seconds at a time to avoid over heating).
  • Gradually add the warm milk & water to the flour mixture and stir with the wooden spoon (or fingers) until all the flour is picked up. Depending on how moist or dry your flour is you might need slightly more / less water.
  • Once all the flour is picked up add the softened butter and knead for at least 10 minutes. I let my stand mixer do this for me with a dough hook but it can also be done by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Place in a clean oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for at least an hour and a half until doubled in size.
  • Tip the risen dough onto a floured surface and knock back (knead out the air). Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a long thin rectangle. (It will try to spring back but persevere).
  • Lay out the Parma ham then add the spinach to cover the ham. (The spinach will release quite a bit of water when cooking so don’t add too much.)
  • Break the mozzarella into marble sized pieces and dot across the dough then add the fresh basil leaves.
  • Roll the dough into a long sausage shape then wind it into a spiral.
  • Place on a greased and floured baking tray and leave to rise for 45 minutes covered with a tea towel.
  • Preheat the oven to 180c.
  • Brush the top with beaten egg and bake for 25 minutes at 180c – the bottom of the lof should sound hollow when tapped.

Picnic loaf



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Hansel and Gretel Gingerbread Cottage

Hansel and GretelWeek two of the Great British Bake Off was biscuit week, with showstoppers of free standing biscuit scenes. Before I even saw the show I knew I wanted to make a gingerbread house for the Great Bloggers Bake Off, it may not be as inventive as some of the bakers on the show but it is something my kids love. When making these before I’ve always used giant chocolate buttons for the roof tiles, this time I went a step further (imagining the look on Mary Berry’s face at the thought of bought chocolate buttons) and made tempered chocolate roof tiles in alternating milk and white chocolate. I also melted sugar to make the window panes. The chocolate coated beans were bought and I’m not sure if using a lollipop stick for the witch is strictly allowed but since I’m not really in the bake off tent I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt!

To make the 3D trees I used a normal tree cutter then cut out sections from the middle to allow them to interlock. Hansel and Gretel are made wide enough to stand up using 2 biscuits attached back to back with royal icing. The witch has a lollipop stick pushed in immediately she comes out of the oven before the biscuit hardens, Her decoration is done using a technique called flooding where lines are piped around the shape and then the inner sections flooded with a slightly runnier icing. I used star biscuits to make the tree she is flying over and used a lolipop stick to put a hole in each as it came out of the oven, when decorated and stacked with royal icing to hold it together the tree forms a stand to hold the witch up. The weights given below make enough dough for this biscuit scene plus enough extra that if you break a piece you can make another, the dough can be frozen or you could make extra trees or animals once you have safely made your cottage. The royal icing is to join biscuits together, the water icing is for decoration. To make the window panes you will need a sugar thermometer.


700g Plain flour

3 tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 tsp ground ginger

200g Butter

350g light muscavado sugar

8 tablespoons golden syrup (and a small dish of vegetable / corn oil to dip the spoon in)

2 eggs (beaten)

pre-heat the oven to 180c

To decorate:

Mini smarties

Water icing and gel colours (white, green, black)

100g castor sugar & 100ml water

Royal icing (1/2 of a 500g packet)

200g White chocolate

200g Milk chocolate



  • Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a bowl.
  • Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Sieve in the sugar to remove any lumps then stir in.
  • Dip your tablespoon in the oil to stop the golden syrup sticking then add the golden syrup to the egg and beat to combine.
  • Gradually stir the syrup mixture into the dry ingredients.
  • Mix into a smooth dough.
  • Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out.
  • Cut out your biscuits and place on buttered baking trays. The template I used for the house is from BBC Goof Food and can be found here (you will need to print out 2 copies in order to cut out all the pieces).
  • Use small heart or circle cutters to add windows and a knife to add a door.
  • Bake at 180c and trim the edges with a sharp knife imediately the pieces come out of the oven while they are still soft. Use the templates again to ensure the correct size but do be careful as the biscuits will be hot.
  • Cooking times may vary for different ovens but I  found the following times worked.
    Trees and figures =8 – 10 minutes (remember to puch the lollipop stick into the witch biscuit as soon as it comes out of the oven).
    Side of house = 14 minutes   *trim edges
    Gable ends of house = 16 minutes
    Roof of house = 18 minutes
  • Cool on wire racks before decorating.


  • Hansel and Gretel collageFirst make the window panes for the house -
    Place the castor sugar and water in a pan and heat to 150c using a sugar thermometer then pour window panes onto a foil covered baking tray (I needed 4)
  • Mix the royal icing then once the window panes have set attach them to the back of the gable ends using the royal icing.
  • While the window panes set in place temper the white and milk chocolate and pipe onto greaseproof paper to make the roof tiles.
  • Once the window panes have set in place assemble the cottage using the royal icing. Place the gable ends between the outer walls so that a ledge is created to rest the roof on while it sets. Only attach the roof once the walls have begun to set.
  • While the house sets decorate the trees, witch and children.
  • Attach the roof tiles in alternating layers with royal icing.
  • Add detail to the cottage with water icing.
  • Finally add mini smarties around the window and door frames.
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